Search Treatwell for Raja Yoga near you
Pick your mind’s locks and find true enlightenment. Raja yoga is a largely meditative form of yoga that aims to teach you how to reach spiritual bliss and to gain complete freedom from suffering. By reigning in your bodily desires and instinctive emotional reactions, a Raja guru would hope to guide you to becoming infinitely open, compassionate and selfless.

How does it work?

There are eight ‘legs’, or areas of teaching involved:

  • Yama (self restraint),
  • Niyama (devotion to study),
  • asana (physical poses),
  • Pranayama (breathing),
  • Pratyahara (reducing sensory stimulation),
  • Dharana (concentration),
  • Dhyana (meditation) and
  • Samadhi (the final state of profound concentration and openness).

The aim of Raja yoga is to reach Samadhi and each of the first seven stages can be seen as vital stepping stones along the way. Unlike a your typical yoga class at the gym, where you can take it easy and go with the flow, to make progress in Raja yoga you need to engage with the teachings intellectually and really throw yourself in at the philosophical deep end.

Each class will be different, especially since different gurus will lay varying amounts of emphasis on the various elements of the meditation – the teachings are sophisticated and have been developed and interpreted over the years by many different practitioners.

A typical class might involve lectures, guided meditation, talks or teaching and practising the basic application of the component ‘legs’. Unlike a more physical yoga class, Raja yoga is not as focussed on gaining balance and flexibility – there is an element of bringing your mind and body into tune with the asanas, but this is a much more spiritual and less physical approach than the kind of yoga you associate with pink mats and jogging bottoms.

Is it for me?

Although, in theory, Raja yoga can benefit everyone, there are some practitioners who warn against meditating too deeply (particularly without the guidance of a guru) too soon. Reaching the state of Samadhi is often described as an exhausting process, emotionally, mentally and, in some cases, physically.

If you’re often a bundle of nerves, prey to a constant flurry of worries and emotions, Raja yoga could help you to disassociate those emotional reactions and to gain more control over your thoughts. The theory, ironically, is that by becoming more open you can actually become less vulnerable and less prone to emotional suffering.

Share this article

Similar treatments

Ananda Yoga

Meditation in movement. Ananda yoga is a gentle style of Hatha yoga with an emphasis placed on spiritual training and self-awareness rather than physical exercise. It aims to harmonise the body, mind and spirit through breathing, postures and positive thinking.

Anusara Yoga

Yoga for those with a big heart; Anusara is a form of yoga that expresses spirituality through each of the physical movements. Every pose springs from a deeply devout feeling within bringing energy from the inside out. It's the perfect form of yoga if you want the physical and spiritual benefits with an added element of creativity and freedom.

Ashtanga Yoga

Fast-paced yoga for fast-paced living; Ashtanga yoga takes traditional Hatha yoga and steps it up a notch. Referred to as the yoga of eight parts ('ashta' meaning eight and 'anga' meaning limbs), each stage requires you to synchronise your breathing with a series of postures that then paves the way for the higher levels.

Children's Yoga

Let your child release their inner lion. Children are under a lot of stress these days. Whether its homework, pressure to compete with other children, or endless after school activities – it all adds up. So just like their parents, children are turning to yoga to help them relax and unwind. Children’s yoga is very similar to adult yoga. It has the same ancient Indian origins, poses and effects but unlike traditional yoga it is not yet that popular.


A problem shared is a problem halved. We’ve all heard it, but sometimes it really is easier said than done. That’s where a counsellor comes in handy. Feel free to offload and talk about what’s bothering you until the cows come home – or at least until your paid time is up.

Iyengar Yoga

Learn how to strike a pose and stick to it. Iyengar Yoga is a relatively static form of yoga placing special focus on developing strength and correct body alignment by holding the traditional poses (asanas) for an extended period of time. With the use of props (a welcome addition), Iyengar yoga advocates the use of belts, cushions and blocks amongst others, to help you dig a little deeper into those punishing stretches and reap further benefit from the poses.

Jivamukti Yoga

Seek the brightest enlightenment. Jivamukti yoga is one of nine internationally recognised forms of yoga. It has western origins, but places special emphasis on the spiritual and intellectual elements of yoga, which are more often neglected by western practitioners.

Kundalini Yoga

Learn how to unwind –literally. Kundalini translates into ‘coil’ or ‘that which is coiled’, and refers to a spiral lying at the base of our spines. Described by some practitioners as either a snake or lock of hair, it’s claimed that by using movement and positioning yourself in various yoga poses, the coil can be unravelled leaving your body to spring into action.


Stop, disconnect and reflect. Meditation is a way of using your thoughts to bring about a state of calm, enlightenment or spirituality. It’s an essential part of many psychological practices as well as hundreds of religious and secular ways of life across the world. Meditation is a key element of many alternative therapies, often combined with prayer, music, exercise, self-massage and fasting.

Vinyasa Yoga

Bend the boundaries as well as your body. With no single philosophy, Vinyasa Yoga throws out the rulebook of traditional yoga in order to connect postures and poses through dance-like movements. With room for individuality and quirks, this creative and diverse method of yoga will have you chanting, panting and aligning your body and mind in ways you never thought possible.


Show us your best downward dog. Yoga, which originated in India, has been practised in the East for over 5,000 years – and now it’s popular in the Western world too. Great for combating stress and developing flexibility, this ancient art uses gentle exercise and [[treatment/breathing-techniques/| breathing techniques]] to help you feel focussed and serene. Great for your muscles and joints, yoga can also improve your physical health. Best start unrolling that mat...